Lawyers react to ‘deeply concerning’ draft law that would keep alleged rapists in the dark about who accused them
One said this nonsense wasn’t doing his blood pressure any good
A draft law currently before the House of Lords has caused a real stir on Twitter this morning.
If adopted, the proposed amendment (screenshotted below) would change police protocol so officers wouldn’t need to disclose the identity of a rape accuser to the accused.
The current rules allow officers to name the victim to the suspect before it’s known if the case will end up in court, but the suggested revision to the Policing and Crime Bill could change all that.
Though campaigners look to the rationale behind the proposed legislation — the protection of stranger rape victims — to justify it, the general feeling among the legal Twitterati is one of concern and unsettlement.
Barrister Andrew Keogh was very vocal in his dismay:
Only 8.30am, and time to take a lie down https://t.co/ilIZdcPRos
— CrimeLine Complete (@CrimeLineLaw) October 27, 2016
One criminal barrister described the story as “nonsense” while 9 Bedford Row’s Max Hardy, echoing this, pointed out the proposed law would “make drafting the indictment rather tricky”:
@CrimeLineLaw All this nonsense is just doing my blood pressure no good at all…
— CrimBarrister (@CrimBarrister) October 27, 2016
@CrimeLineLaw would make drafting the indictment rather tricky.
— Max Hardy (@maxbarrister) October 27, 2016
Others to raise concerns include anonymous legal blogger Secret Barrister, who said the story is “deeply concerning”. Tim Forte, of 3 Temple Gardens, also quipped “how do we know it’s ‘stranger rape’ if D not told name…”.
The disquietude in the legal community is palpable. But as rightly pointed out by one legal commentator, central to this is a draft amendment proposed by the opposition (Plaid Cymru’s Dafydd Wigley), not a rock-solid legal development. So while there’s no need for uproar just yet, expect the proposal to go to vote late next month.